Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Rookies following in Rea's tyre tracks

Red Bull Rookie winners Kia McGreevy (second left) from Ballynahinch and Kevin Keyes, from Offaly, flanked by top riders Jonathan Rea (left) and Jeremy McWilliams at Nutts Corner Raceway

Honda World Superbike star Jonathan Rea is proud of his roots and equally proud to be associated with energy drink giants and huge motorsport supporters Red Bull.

It was through the Red Bull Rookies project that both Rea and fellow Ulsterman Eugene Laverty were given a platform to demonstrate their obvious talent in their formative years.

For that reason, Rea remains determined to put something back into the sport, and what better place to do that than here at home in Ireland, both north and south, where we produce a raft of young motorcycling talent.

Now residing in the Isle of Man, the 26-year-old initiated the Red Bull 'Under my Wing' talent-developing project that took place over two days at Nutts Corner Raceway in County Antrim.

And with the support of former Grand Prix winner Jeremy McWilliams, Rea was able to select two young hopefuls who will now take part in the Red Bull Rookies selection process for a potential team ride in 2014.

Speaking from a hotel room in Paris during a recent PR trip for his Honda World Superbike Team, Rea explained: "I pushed really hard behind the scenes to make sure we could not only show the winning kids a good time, but also get them to the Red Bull Rookies Cup.

"I didn't want to just drag them to Nutts Corner for two days for nothing. Now our winners, Kia McGreevey and Kevin Keyes, have something to work towards and really look forward to.

"It's something I experienced over 10 years ago with my Red Bull Rookies selection and just like these lads I was also in my teens."

Ballynahinch lad McGreevey and Offaly youngster Keyes were selected from 23-three young hopefuls between the ages of 13 and 17, who braved the cold conditions for two days at Nutts Corner. They were scrutinised both on and off the track, as well as being advised and tutored by Rea and McWilliams, and even the Honda World Superbike star owned up to learning a thing or two from the old boy!

"It was good working with Jeremy and it's amazing the things you can pick up from him, even racing at the level I'm currently at," Rea openly admitted.

"The whole experience was very enjoyable and all the riders will hopefully have taken something away from it," he added.

As well as having their style and technique analysed, the youngsters received Media training and communication advice from BBC Northern Ireland broadcaster Jackie Fullerton.

On top of that they were given machine set-up advice, nutrition and training guides from Rea and McWilliams, who told us: "Ireland has a history of producing motorcycle racers and there is a wealth of talent out there. We are hopeful that through our workshops and track sessions we have given all the young participants a stepping stone to take them forward in their racing career."

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